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How to Transplant Peony Bushes

By Barbara Raskauskas ; Updated September 21, 2017
Peony blooms

Peony bushes produce large, fragrant blooms around May. The blooms can last up to six weeks and may be white, rose, coral, deep red, pink or two colors, like pink and white. Peony bushes are long-lived perennials that can be propagated by digging out and separating the root ball. Transplanting a peony may be necessary if the bush has become crowded in its location, or if trees or buildings are now blocking the peony from full sun. Transplant peony bushes in the fall. The new location should receive full sun and be well-drained.

Dig around the root ball at least 6 inches from the stems and 12 inches deep. Lift the root ball and shake gently or rinse to remove the soil. Count the number of eyes (the pink nubs that will grow into stems) on the root ball. If the root ball, or clump, has fewer than six eyes, replant the entire clump. If the clump has six or more eyes, the clump can be divided to expand the number of peony bushes.

Divide a large clump with a knife so there are three to five eyes with each new clump. Dispose of any decaying roots, which will be soft or hollow.

Dig the transplant hole about 18 inches deep and wide to loosen the soil.

Hold the transplant in the center of the hole with the eyes 1 to 2 inches below ground level. Backfill the hole with the removed soil. Use your hands or feet to press the soil to force out air pockets.

Water thoroughly and continue to water every seven to 10 days through November if there is no rain.

Apply 2 to 4 inches of mulch, like pine bark or straw, over the stems in November to protect the peony transplant from freezing and thawing repeatedly. Applying a layer of mulch is only needed during the first year. In the spring, push the mulch away so the stems are exposed to sunlight.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Knife
  • Mulch


  • Cut the stems of the peony to about 3 inches above ground level in September. Cutting the stems is an annual fall event that neatens the area by removing dead stems and reduces the chance of decay.
  • Don't be concerned if the transplanted peony does not bloom the first year. It can take three to four years in its new location before the peony will bloom.


  • Resist the temptation to cut long stems of blooming peonies. Removing stems and leaves can impact the number and size of blooms the following year. To take blooms indoors, cut about 3 inches from the bloom and place in a shallow container, like a decorative tea cup.

About the Author


Barbara Raskauskas's favorite pursuits are home improvement, landscape design, organic gardening and blogging. Her Internet writing appears on SASS Magazine, AT&T and various other websites. Raskauskas is active in the small business she and her husband have owned since 2000 and is a former MS Office instructor.